There's a really nice little charity that provides toilets for the third world. Their hook is that you get to "twin" your toilet with a toilet somewhere in Africa or in another less-developed part of the world. You get a little framed sign with a picture of the bog you're sponsoring and the GPS coordinates that you can hang in your own cloakroom. My mum and dad gave me a toilet in Cambodia, and I gave one of my best friends and his wife a block of toilets at a school in Burundi (they met in Africa, although, as a French-Canadian, his wife was a little uncertain about the appropriateness of this as a wedding gift. "Is this some kind of British joke?").
It's a nice gift and the money you're spending is being used to provide safe, clean and hygienic sanitation to a community. It's all good.
Except for one thing.
They're a Christian charity... which is obviously fine ... but they keep sending me emails like this one, which arrived this week:
What’s your perfect ‘Bible moment’?
It’s time to get thinking if you want to win a copy of this rather splendid prize. I’ve got five copies of a very special Bible to give away. It’s ‘The Bible in One Year’ read by actor David Suchet – best known as TV’s Hercule Poirot.
On six CDS you get 365 MP3 files – each file contains a portion of the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Psalms or Proverbs. It’s the perfect ‘three-portions-a-day’ way to listen to the entire Bible.
You could listen on your computer, phone or MP3 player – while you're on your commute or walking the dog...
How to win
You just need to hit ‘reply’ to this email and tell me:
A favourite passage of scripture.
Where you would most like to listen to or read it and why.
For instance, you could choose Malachi 4 v 2 (‘But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.’) while you are sat watching the sun rise in a favourite picturesque spot. It can be anywhere in the world (universe?) you like, just give me a great reason. Our five favourite responses will win the prize; as always, our decision is final.
You get the idea. Get those inspirational thinking caps on. I look forward to hearing the result.
With every blessing,
I really like supporting them, but COME ON! Does it even occur to them, do you think, that this proselytising might be off-putting to the demographic who are happy to support the work that they do but could happily do without having any particular flavour of deity - or, indeed, any flavour of deity at all - thrown into the equation?
Besides, Malachi 4 v2? What the hell? Isn't everyone's favourite Bible verse from Ezekiel? 25:17?
"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children".
You know it.